Feb 07, 2017 01:48 PM

Alibaba Scores Online Rights for Asian Winter Games

(Beijing) — E-commerce giant Alibaba has won exclusive new-media broadcasting rights for the Asian Winter Games later this month, as it vies with rivals for premium content to boost its online video services.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will broadcast events from the games over its Youku online video service, the company said in a statement on Monday. It did not disclose how much it paid for the rights to the games, which will run Feb. 19-26 in the Japanese cities of Sapporo and Obihiro.

“We don’t disclose our expenses for this kind of partnership, but I can guarantee that Alibaba Sports won’t engage in any kind of destructive bidding wars,” spokeswoman Wang Jingyi said.

The move marks the first time a private company has received new-media rights to the games, reflecting the rapid rise in the last five years of privately owned online video services like Youku and rivals iQiyi and PPTV. Those companies have been clamoring for exclusive and premium content like Hollywood films and sporting events to distinguish them from their peers.

Previously, such rights would have typically gone to state-run CCTV, China’s only broadcaster with a wide-ranging national reach.

The licensing deal also comes just weeks after Alibaba announced a larger, 12-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee to provide cloud and e-commerce services for the next six Olympic Games. Under the agreement, running until 2028, Alibaba joined 12 other multinationals such as The Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald’s Corp. as global Olympic sponsors.

The deal also comes as Beijing and China’s private sector try to promote winter sports ahead of the nation’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in 2022. In a deal related to that trend, Alibaba internet rival Tencent Holdings Ltd. last month announced a partnership with North America’s National Hockey League (NHL), including online broadcasting rights in China for championship games over the next five years.

Contact writer: Yang Ge (

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